Making Felt: Joseph Beuys and the Dalai Lama - un-organizing otherness

Thompson, Christopher M.. 2001. Making Felt: Joseph Beuys and the Dalai Lama - un-organizing otherness. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

"Making Felt: Joseph Beuys and the Dalai Lama - un-organizing otherness" examines the histories and legacies of the 1982 meeting between the German artist Joseph Beuys and his Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, an event that has gone all but unnoticed by historians and theorists. The history of the relationships between both the well-known and marginal figures who were involved with it serves as the connective tissue for the thesis' interrelated objectives. These are: 1) to provide a historical account of the life and work of the meeting's organizer, Dutch artist Louwrien Wijers, and her partnerships with Beuys, French artist Robert Filliou, and Dutch artists Ben d' Annagnac and Gerrit Dekker, which are a crucial part of the meeting and its legacies; 2) to theorize several post-war Western artists' and philosophers' engagements with Eastern thought and religious practices, primarily Zen and Tibetan Buddhism; 3) to historicize the Dalai Lama's first visits to the West (1973 and 1981) which set the stage for his meeting with Beuys; 4) to provide a narrative of 20th-century Western artistic and philosophical practices in terms of encounters with cultural difference, and to use these practices to suggest a notion of 'nonviolence' viable in the 21st-century. The thesis employs the material felt - crucial to Beuys' work - as a device for giving cohesion to its methodology and to the play of histories with which it works. Felt, a non-woven fabric, and the process of making it which involves a methodical leaving-to-chance of the formation of the material- offers a mode of approaching the encounter with otherness that provides an alternative to the usual figuration of cultural knowledge as a regularized ''weave'' of various cultural practices. The thesis uses this distinction between woven and non-woven, making knowledge and making felt, to enable the productive ''un-organization'' of otherness.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Joseph Beuys, Dalai Lama, Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Western art, felt (material), Louwrien Wijers, Robert Filliou, Ben d' Annagnac, Gerrit Dekker



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Date Deposited:

15 Jun 2020 08:54

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:41


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